Thursday, October 14, 2010

Skeletons and Scary Cats

My daughter has recently become scared of some of our neighbors' Halloween decorations. It's the first time that she's really shown genuine fear. When we go on our walks, she'll either want to turn around or pull the sun shade in the stroller down over her heard when we pass by a large black inflatable cat. And she'll whimper whenever we see a skeleton in someone's front yard.

The big cat hasn't been as much of a problem recently ever since it got a big hole in the back of it. It can't keep enough air in it anymore to keep it inflated. I take no credit for slicing up the cat, but it would have been fun to dress up like a knight and go fight it in front of Anne, so she could see that I was a hero and that cats are no match for a crazy guy wielding a Wii remote with a golf club accessory attached to it.

The skeletons are still up everywhere, but I keep telling her that there's no reason to be afraid of them. I calmly explain that bones by themselves cannot move without the help of muscles, ligaments and tendons. A skeleton has none of that, so it can't move.

Then, it takes electrical signals from a brain to flex those muscles in order to move the skeleton. So a skeleton with muscles, tendons and ligaments, but no brain or nervous system, is useless.

I then tell her that if you do happen to ever face a skinless, bloodless enemy composed of muscle, bones, a nervous system and ligaments, it would still need a heart, arteries and veins to pump blood to the muscles and brain so that they can function.

But with no skin, the blood and brain wouldn't stay in the body. So a skeleton with no skin is nothing to be afraid of.

Anne didn't seem convinced, so I went on: if the skeleton did have all of these things - in which case it wouldn't be a skeleton anymore - it would still need an immune system in case any part of it got infected. It would also need the endocrine system to send hormones all over the body, and internal organs to hold and/or create certain hormones. And unless it was going to live forever, it would need to generate new skeletons with skin, muscles and hormones, and so would need sex organs and also a mate.

Of course, if it had a mate and had kids, it would need shelter. And it would probably live with other creatures just like it for some type of herd protection.

Basically, as I explained to Anne, it's much more practical to be deathly afraid of a regular human than it is to be afraid of a skeleton.

Now Anne is afraid to leave her room. And it's all because of those damned decorations!

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